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29 April 2021

How to buy the best fridge freezer

Find the best fridge freezer for your kitchen – and avoid the worst – with our expert advice.
Fridge freezer 476343
Ben Slater

The best fridge freezers maximise the freshness and lifespan of your food without pushing up your energy bills or being a hassle to live with.

Even if you know whether you want a freestanding, integrated or American-style fridge freezer, there have never been more features, sizes, colours and prices to choose between – and there's even a safety consideration to think about.

Below you'll find the best fridge freezers covering the three main types – freestanding, American-style and integrated, these are the top-scoring models available to buy.

Three of the best fridge freezers

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Best Buy
Energy saver

This outstanding fridge freezer didn't do badly in any of our tests and made short work of most of them. Heat-loving bacteria don’t stand a chance in this exceptionally powerful fridge and for its size, this is one of the most energy efficient fridge freezers we’ve seen. You can rely on the freezer to rapidly freeze your food, preserving it in prime condition. It's an obvious Best Buy.

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Best Buy
Energy saver

This outstanding fridge freezer aced many of our tough tests and didn't do poorly in any of them. It's so good we've made it a Best Buy. It chills and freezes rapidly, it's unaffected by changing room temperatures and the thermostat setting is reliable. It's very efficient, but it's not cheap.

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Table checked: 29 April 2021.

None of these picks right for you? See our full round-up of the best fridge freezers.

Video: how to buy the best fridge freezer

Watch our video below for tips on choosing your next fridge freezer.

Types of fridge freezer

If you want your new fridge freezer to fit in the same space as your current one, you’ll probably want the same type, be that freestanding, integrated or American-style.

But if you’re redesigning your kitchen, it’s worth deciding on the type you want early on, when you’re planning the layout. Below, we'll tell you about the pros and cons of each type to help you choose the best for your needs and budget.

Freestanding fridge freezer

This is the cheapest type you can buy, and there are more of them on the market than the other two types, so you'll have more choice of model, brand, budget and style.

Another advantage of freestanding models is that you can put them anywhere in your kitchen, and take them with you when you move. On the downside, they can be a bit of an eyesore.

See all our freestanding fridge freezer reviews.

Integrated fridge freezers

Integrated (or built-in) fridge freezers are tucked away behind kitchen cupboard doors and are ideal if you don’t like your appliances to be out on view in your kitchen. 

They’re more expensive than freestanding models, though, and there are fewer to choose from.

Need a fridge freezer for a built-in kitchen? See how to pick the perfect one for you in our integrated fridge freezer buying guide.

Go straight to our shortlist of the best integrated fridge freezers.

American-style fridge freezers

If you've got a large kitchen, or just want a lot of space for your chilled and frozen goods, you probably have an American-style fridge freezer on your wish list. They're sleek, stylish and have loads of storage space. 

Most come with enhanced features, such as separate thermostats for more accurate temperature control, and water and ice dispensers. At the same time, however, they’re expensive, pricey to power and take up a lot of floor space.

Find out all you need to know to buy the best American fridge freezer.

How much should I pay for a fridge freezer?

The average price of all the fridge freezers we've reviewed is a fairly hefty £777, but you don't have to spend anything like that to get a great one.

As the graph below shows, we've tested more than ten Best Buy fridge freezers costing between £250 and £400. However, we've found more than twice as many Don't Buys in the same price category, so you need to pick carefully if you're after a cheap fridge freezer.

Fridge freezer prices: Best Buys vs Don't Buys

There are times when it's worth spending a bit more. One of the best freestanding fridge freezer we've ever tested, for example, falls into the £400 to £700 price band. 

You'll need to spend even more to pick up the best integrated or American model we've seen, but that's perhaps not surprising, because these types tend to cost more than freestanding models.

Paying more can also also unlock some pretty premium features, such as super-sleek black steel finishes and multi-temperature zones.

Only interested in the cheapest? See our list of the top five cheap fridge freezers.

What size should I buy?

External dimensions

It goes without saying that you need to carefully measure the space in your kitchen before buying a new fridge freezer. 

But as neat as a snug fit looks, bear in mind that you often need to allow for additional space at the back, and sometimes the sides, of the appliance. These 'spacers' are important, as they can help prevent the fridge freezer from overheating.

Internal storage volume

Before you start comparing fridge freezer storage volumes, bear in mind that manufacturers typically calculate this with all the shelves, drawers and door racks taken out. 

When we test fridge freezers, we leave everything inside and measure the space you can actually use for storing food.

The differences between our measurements and manufacturers’ can be huge – as the graph below shows, the worst differ by more than 30%. Even fridge freezers with the same external dimensions can hold different quantities of food.

Fridge freezer energy label changes

From 1 March 2021 a new energy label came into force, which replaces the confusing A+, A++ and A+++ ratings and resets the scale back to A to G. This is designed to reinvigorate the sustainability race for manufacturers by completely emptying the top A-rating to leave room for improvement. At first it will affect washing machines, washer-dryers, dishwashers, refrigeration appliances, lighting and TVs, with tumble dryers, ovens and other appliances remaining on the old label for now.

The new label for refrigeration (above) states the capacity of chilled and/or frozen compartments in litres and there is also a new measure for noise emissions.

The new ratings will go from A to G and is a clearer reflection of how efficient your appliance is by modern standards. Each label features a QR-code for more product information which links to the product on the manufacturer’s website. Energy consumption is presented either as kWh per year, kWh per 1,000 hours or kWh per 100 cycles, depending on the product group. This is a change from the old label, which was often based on an estimated usage over a year.

When buying a fridge freezer, you may spot that it comes with both the old label and the new label. This is because some retailers may have stock of products displaying both labels while the switch over happens. 

Three features to look out for

Fridge freezers may seem like little more than large cool boxes, but there are an array of features available to help make your life easier and preserve your food better.

What you get will largely depend on the amount you spend, as most of the nice-to-haves will add to the price. The following are worth looking out for:

  • Frost-free freezer – if you pick only one feature, make it this one. You’ll save hours of time and a lot of mess by never having to defrost your freezer. See all our frost-free fridge freezer reviews.
  • Door alarms – these will sound when you leave the door open, so you shouldn't ever wake up to find a pool of water and thawed food after inadvertently leaving the freezer door open overnight.
  • Water and ice dispensers – there are a growing number of freestanding and American-style fridge freezers to choose from if you want chilled water and ice at the touch of a button. But check whether you're getting a model you refill yourself or needs plumbing in.

Find out more in our guide: fridge freezer features explained.

Retro and coloured fridge freezers

If you want to make a statement with your fridge freezer you can choose one in a different colour from the standard white – black and stainless steel are really popular. Or you can go for a retro fridge freezer like those made popular by Smeg.

Black, silver and stainless steel fridge freezers

Buying a different-coloured fridge freezer shouldn't add much to the price if you choose one with a silver or black finish.

If you want a metal, gloss or glass finish, expect to pay a fair bit more.

If you're after a stylish stainless-steel models, take a look at our metallic fridge freezer reviews.

Or compare all our reviews of black fridge freezers.

Retro fridge freezers

A colourful retro fridge freezer is a standout addition to any kitchen or utility room. Smeg is, once again, the best-known name in this area, although there are plenty of other brands making retro-style fridge freezers, many of which are significantly cheaper.

But chose carefully as many of the models we've tested are either a poor home for your food, or else have potentially unsafe flammable backing. 

Find out more in our guide: How to buy the best retro fridge freezer.

Fridge freezers in garages

Every fridge freezer has a climate class, which tells you the range of room temperatures it’s designed to work in. 

In the UK, models have a climate class beginning with either SN or N, meaning they're designed for room temperatures as low as 10°C or 16°C respectively.

Unless the manufacturer says otherwise, using a fridge freezer outside its designated range could damage it and invalidate your warranty – which is why you'll struggle to find ones suitable for the garage.

Regardless of climate class, we test every fridge freezer in room temperatures as high as 32°C and as low as 10°C, as this is how hot and cold it can get in your kitchen at different times of year.

The worst models struggle to maintain a safe and stable temperature in these conditions, potentially reducing the lifespan of your food.

Read our 10 tips on keeping food fresher for longer.

Does the fridge freezer have flammable plastic backing?

All fridge freezers need insulation to keep cool. This insulation is flammable, so it's essential it's sufficiently protected in the unlikely event of a fire. The backing that covers this insulation is currently made from either plastic, metal or aluminium laminate.

Our tests have revealed that plastic backing can be highly flammable. We're not recommending any refrigeration appliances with flammable plastic backing. All fridge freezers with this type of backing have been made Which? Don't Buys, regardless of how else they have performed in our chilling and freezing tests.

Read more on fridge freezer safety.

For the full list of ace appliances that help keep food fresher and nutrient-rich for longer, whatever the temperature in your kitchen, head straight to our reviews of the best fridge freezers.

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